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ENGL 107 Week 8


David Raskin

on 26 February 2017

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Transcript of ENGL 107 Week 8

Chapter 5
Media and Ideology
Definining Ideology
Defining Ideology
Ideology as Normalization
: a system of meaning that helps define and explain the world and makes value judgments about that world
Not just political beliefs, but also cultural values
: a system of meaning that helps define and explain the world and makes value judgments about that world
: power or dominance that one group holds over others, and the method for maintaining that power
"Popular media, particularly television and mass advertising, have a tendency to display a remarkably narrow range of behaviors and lifestyles, marginalizing or neglecting people who are different from the mass-mediated norm."
Original Marxist Idea
Ideology is “false consciousness” propagated by the ruling class to make the lower classes act in their interest
Marx: “The mode of production of material life determines the general character of the social, political, and spiritual processes of life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.”
In this sense, ideologies are belief systems that help justify the actions of those in power by distorting and misrepresenting reality
False Consciousness
Also: the site at which power and the social construction of reality are brought together, enabling the maintenance of society through the reproduction of its institutions and its structure of social relations
Marx thought that the proletarian revolution would destroy ideology, that people would be reconnected to the authentic, real conditions of existence.
Later theorists came to the conclusion that there is no definite “reality” to distort and misrepresent
Reality is
socially constructed
We can never access “reality” because our perceptions are always shaped by our systems of representation
What’s “real” is an ideological construction
Media's Role in Ideology
Media hold a prominent place in the process of making meanings and organizing them into codes
This meaning-making implies representation
Literally “re-presentation” of reality: always a selection and deflection of reality
Ideology is not simply competing political visions, but a pervasive filter--ideology filters our relation to the real conditions of existence
Louis Althusser: no experience is outside of ideology; no experience is outside the systems of representation and meaning
Therefore, ideology produces experience
Once accomplished through force, but now the primary work of maintaining power is through ideology
hegemony = ideology + power structure
i.e. Those in power, who benefit most from the system, are in a position to exert ideological influence, and will try and make their interests seem universal so as to maintain or gain power
Hegemony is fragile, and at times the power structure is noticed and challenged
Dominant ideology must be negotiated, but in such a way as to maintain the capitalist power structure
Opposition is ultimately incorporated into the basic ideological framework
Most fights over representation--whether over the promotion of promiscuity or the stereotyping of a racial group, etc.--are about the media's power to normalize and make unexceptional
News Media and Ideology
Most news outlets try to play to the middle as being "non-ideological"
However, "the middle ground is ideological precisely because it is a cultural site where commonsense assumptions are produced, reproduced, and circulated."
The selection of issues, stories, and sources is inescapably value-laden and ideological
Genres and Ideological Themes
The consistency of conventions across a genre allow us to analyze those conventions for their ideological themes
: distinction between "us" and "them," using ethnic coding; the triumph of the rugged male individual
Television and the Changing American Family
'50s-'60s: suburban white utopia
'70s: politically relevant sitcoms, often with urban working class settings; the rise of workplace comedies with "work-families"
'80s: return to more traditional sitcom families, if not always with white, married parents
'90s-'00s: a whole mix of different family forms; some sitcoms not based around work or family
Revising Tradition: The New Momism
2000s trend of representations of "liberated," do-it-all moms, including celebrity moms
"These media images perform classic ideological functions by setting standards of perfection and prescribing what a 'good mother' should do."
Full transcript